Eunan or Adamnan: 624 – 703. Notes based on research by Jim Kearns, Clydebank in 1998.
St Eunan or Adamnan was probably born at Gartan in County Donegal about 624 AD. He joined the community at Iona and while there wrote his Life of Columba, his kinsman. In 663 AD he attended the Synod of Whitby (as a representative of Iona) which decided that the Christian churches should accept the more widely spread Roman date for celebrating Easter. About 679 AD he became 9th abbot of Iona. It took the monks of Iona several years to accept the Synod’s decisions, and in the meantime Eunan made Glen Lyon in Perthshire his base and taught amongst the people there. The church at Fortingall in Glen Lyon has a baptismal font dating from his time and a hand bell known to some as ‘Adamnan’s Bell’. (There is a copy of this bell in the museum at Kilmartin and the copy was used at the opening of the First Ecumenical Gathering of the Year 2001).
Eunan took a prominent part in the Synod held at Birr in Northern Ireland which proclaimed the ‘Law of the Innocents’ sometimes called ‘Adamnan’s Law’. (Gilbert Marcus researched this ‘Law’ and published a book on it in the 1990s.) Eunan died in Glen Lyon in 703AD. He was buried at Dull near Aberfeldy, and his remains were later moved to Dunkeld and finally to St Andrew’s.
St Eunan’s Primary School asked for a new song for their Jubilee celebrations and the song below was written for them by Stephen Eric Smyth and Gerry Fitzpatrick. The little drama , ‘A Celtic Newsflash’ by Brother Stephen was also part of the school’s Jubilee celebrations.
St Eunan – Adamnan
chorus: Eunan, Adamnan, guide us today.
By your example teach us to pray.
Help us to strive for justice and peace,
to live out our faith in Jesus,
to live out our faith in Jesus.
Eunan, great Celt, both scholar and monk,
known as Adamnan, abbot and saint.
Throughout these islands down all the years
your witness stays clear and pow’rful.
There to Iona, your special place,
all folk would come in time of distress.
Refugees, pilgrims, lawyers and kings
found welcome and peace and wisdom.
Fighting the cures of feuding and war,
women and children suffering more,
you took their side, established the law
protecting the rights of the innocents.
Loving the scriptures, hist’ry and prayer
helped you discern where customs could change,
helped people reach a greater accord
to build up the church’s unity.
ADAMNAN’S LAW – THE LAW OF THE INNOCENTS
Stephen Eric Smyth
(Suggestion: begin with an ‘evening news’ – type jingle)
Voice 1: We interrupt this service to bring you an important newsflash.
Voice 2 : This is ‘News at 697AD’, and I am N…..
We are receiving some breaking news from Ireland, from the ‘Synod of Birr’, where political and religious leaders from Ireland, Scotland and the lands of the Picts, are discussing some significant new international legislation.
We are going over to our correspondent, N… , for more details.
Voice 3: Yes, good morning, N… .
There has been a remarkable breakthrough here today in the quest to provide basic human rights for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
After years of debate and wrangling, across Scotland and Ireland, this synod has accepted the proposals championed by Adamnan, the 9th Abbot of Iona, for an amazing new ‘Law of the Innocents’.
Voice 2: A ‘Law of the Innocents’? What does this mean exactly, N… ?
Voice 3: This means, N… , that from now on in any war or battle among our many nations and tribes, all the innocent people – mainly the women and children – may no longer just be slaughtered or taken as slaves by the winning side.
Voice 2: No longer just be slaughtered or taken as slaves! That’s quite a change, N…
Voice 3: Yes, N… , and if anyone breaks this new law they will face severe penalties both in this world and in the next!
Voice 2: And the kings and chieftains have all agreed to this?
Voice 3: Yes, all the kings and chieftains of Ireland and of the land of the Scots and of the land of the Picts have actually agreed to this.
It is a huge achievement for Adamnan, or Eunan as he is sometimes called. He says that the law is firmly rooted in the teaching of Jesus, the person who founded the Christian religion that Adamnan loves so dearly.
Voice 2: This Jesus and this Adamnan must be remarkable people, N…
Voice 3: Yes indeed, N… .
After hearing the synod’s decision I spoke to one woman. She said:
Voice 4: Today, through Adamnan of Iona, Jesus has granted the lasting liberation of the women of these islands. It’s a wonderful day for women and children everywhere.
See that Adamnan – he’s a saint!
Voice 3: Yes, N… , Adamnan’s Law – The Law of the Innocents. It is indeed a wonderful day for women and children everywhere. This is N… for ‘News at 697AD’ at the ‘Synod of Birr’, Ireland.
Voice 2: Thank you, N….
Well, this is goodbye from us all at ‘News at 697AD’.
We will now return you to your normal service.
Go in peace and may you safely enjoy the rest of your lives.
(Suggestion: end with an ‘evening news-type’ jingle)